The ‘uberization’ of everything has given rise to fear in the heart of traditionalists. Entrenched business models and revenue streams are under attack from data aware competitors. The swift shift has highlighted the fact that no-one is immune to sudden disruptive change.
While many view Uber as changing everything, the reality is that it is a company that has pioneered concepts that can be used to improve an industry, as opposed to destroying an old one. Uber has simply brought disruption to an old model that needed a revamp.
As Anti-Fragility author Nassim Taleb notes, it is the theme of our time to ‘Uberize’ and remove the middleman. Or it could be that the middleman has simply slipped to the side giving the perception that he’s no longer there, but in reality, Uber is ever present in the ride sharing transaction.
In heritage industries such as Field Marketing, which have yet to feel the full winds of change, there is a tension in the air. The change must be coming.
We should be looking at ‘Uberization’ as a force that creates value for itself, its workers and its users. With an increasing number of businesses becoming nervous about a digital, Uber-style disruption, companies and industries are realising that they need to be increasingly open to people and ideas that help them disrupt themselves a little.
For industries such as Field Marketing that are ripe for innovation, recognising the warning signs of an impending disruption is critical for existing players to survive.Warning signs include the continual competitor experimentation and failure of seemingly random experiments.
Meanwhile emerging technologies such as sales force automation entering incumbent’s ecosystem also point to a new Uber-style value proposition.
By identifying the warning signs and understanding the underlying reason for the experimentation, Field Marketers are able to put a case forward to begin their own experimentation in the same area.
The biggest problem with Field Marketing organisations is that they are yet to fully leap into the data space and they generally lack the strong change management leadership required to do so. The owners of many incumbent Field Marketing businesses didn’t build their business around the new digital workspace. So they are not ready to harness the real power of data to improve their processes and grow their businesses. They now sit poised for a disruptive data force to make the change for them, or to them.
So before the disruptors descend what can the Field Marketing sector learn from Uber.
1. Any market can be shaken up. At any time and no market is immune.
2. Uniform digital systems are paramount to shake up a sector. Yet this market still runs on bespoke systems. Successful Field Marketing organisations will overcome their leadership shortfall and harness the power of data through the use of Field Marketing systems that enforce processes, accountability, and measurability.
3. Impending disruption puts the value on maintaining a stable Field Marketing business and nurturing that allows this stability to be supported. This includes the ability to prove ROI (return on investment) on the services provided. Field Marketing needs to prove it adds value to the process. It is a misconception that simply reporting a 3% improvement is a benefit without being able to back this up with measurable evidence. The Field Marketers of the future will be in a position that they can demonstrate their value.
4. Data insights are paramount to better Field Marketing management. The accumulation of data is not a goal in itself. Data needs to deliver meaningful information that can inform business decisions. To convert data into useful tools, Field Marketers need to be at the forefront of data analytics or use digital systems that facilitate this.
5. Real-time visibility is critical and constant feedback is important to sales training and improvement cycle. These facilities can be built into bespoke systems that can coordinate activities. Bespoke systems cost more than uniform systems, and usually fall short because data awareness is already in deficit in the organisation. Uniform, measurable processes are the best way to enable growth and innovation.
The warning signs are clear, and time will tell how Field Marketing is going to “remove or move the middlemen” and who the middlemen are.